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Team of 6: the leadership of Indonesia’s peatlands restoration agency is now in place

  • The new appointees are Hartono Prawiratmadja, Haris Gunawan, Alue Dohong, Myrna Safitri and Budi Wardhana.
  • They will serve under Nazir Foead, the conservationist named head of the agency in January.
  • Their goal: rewett 2 million hectares of dried peatlands, about the same area that burned in last year’s devastating fires.

The leadership of Indonesia’s new peatlands restoration agency was rounded out on Friday, with the inauguration of five lieutenants to agency chief Nazir Foead.

Hartono Prawiratmadja was named secretary. The bureaucrat also serves as director of conservation areas in the ministry of environment and forestry.

Two of the deputies are academics: Haris Gunawan, from the Universtiy of Riau, and Alue Dohong, from the University of Palangkaraya. Gunawan will handle research and development, while Dohong is in charge of construction, operations and maintenance.

The other two work for nonprofits. They are Myrna Safitri, executive director of the Epistema Institute, and Budi Wardhana, of WWF Indonesia. Safitri was named deputy for education, socialization, participation and partnerships, and Wardhana will oversee planning and cooperation.

Peatlands cleared for a plantation in Riau Province in 2015. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

The agency aims to rewett 2 million hectares of peatlands, vast swaths of which have been drained for oil palm and pulpwood monoculture. But dried peatlands are heavily susceptible to catching fire, a major cause of last year’s haze crisis.

The goal for 2016 is to complete 30% of that target. The initial effort will focus on Meranti, in Riau province; Musi Banyuasin and Ogan Komering Ilir, in South Sumatra province; and Pulang Pisau, in Central Kalimantan province.

“We’re going to partner with the government, civil society, academics, NGOs and the private sector,” said Foead, a conservationist who was named head of the agency in January. “This is a local, national and international effort.”

Indonesia’s peatlands restoration effort has already received funding from Norway, which pledged $50 million earlier this month. The U.S. has pledged $20-30 million, the EU 6 million euros and the UK 3 million pounds, according to the newspaper Kompas.

Correction 25-Feb-2016 noon Pacific: This article originally mixed up the roles played by Gunawan and Wardhana in the new agency. Thank you to reader Vanda for catching this mistake.